Your Job Could Put You at Much Higher Risk for Flu

By Robert Preidt
Health Day reporter

FRIDAY, July 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Your job can dramatically increase your risk of catching the flu, with potential implications for the spread of other infectious diseases, including COVID-19, new research shows.

On average, people who work are 35% more likely to contract the flu than those who are unemployed, but an analysis of U.S. federal data found stark differences between some jobs and industries.

The more professional contacts people have with others, the greater their risk of influenza. For example, people working in sales were 41% higher risk than farmers, and those working in education, health and social services were 52% higher risk than miners.

The results took into account individual characteristics such as vaccinations and health insurance.

Rates were higher in years of bad flu and were consistent in company size, number of jobs and hours worked, according to research accepted for publication in the Journal of public economics.

The researchers suggested that their findings could influence government policies on several issues affecting private businesses, from the design and management of physical workspaces to policies on sick leave and remote working.

Study author Dongya Koh, assistant professor of economics at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business, said the findings should come as no surprise.

“We hope they are relevant to understanding the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases transmitted by respiratory droplets or through close human contact, including SARS and COVID,” he said in a statement university press.

Koh said the findings open the door to an assessment of “non-pharmaceutical policies” to tackle contagion and possibly pandemics.

“In this sense, we believe these findings provide a basis for an organizational policy that both protects workers and optimizes production and efficiency,” Koh said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers flu prevention tips.

SOURCE: University of Arkansas, press release, June 26, 2021

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